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Inspection report July 2004 Supporting People Programme Lancashire County Council p 2 Lancashire County Council - Supporting People Programme Contents Introduction to the Supporting People Programme 3 Background 3 Scoring the service 4 Context 12 The locality 12 The Council 12 Supporting People – ODPM Framework for Delivery 13 Supporting People – Housing Related Support Services in Lancashire 13 How good is the service? 15 Are the aims clear and challenging? 15 Does the service meet these aims? 16 How does the performance compare? 35 Summary 36 What are the prospects for improvement to the service? 37 Ownership of problems & willingness to change 37 A sustained focus on what matters 39 The capacity and systems to deliver performance and improvement 41 Integration of continuous improvement into day to day management 44 Summary 45 Appendices 46 Documents reviewed 46 Reality checks undertaken 46 List of people interviewed 46 Demographic information 49 Performance information 51 Lancashire County Council - Supporting People Programme p 3 Summary Introduction to the Supporting People Programme 1 ‘Supporting People’ is the Government’s long-term policy to enable local authorities to plan, commission and provide housing related support services that help vulnerable people live independently. The programme went live on 1 April 2003. 2 The aim of the Supporting People programme is to establish a strategic, integrated policy and ...

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Report a problem
 
Inspection report
July 2004
 
 
Supporting People Programme
Lancashire County Council
 
p 2 Lancashire County Council - Supporting People Programme Contents Introduction to the Supporting People Programme 3 Background 3 Scoring the service 4 Context 12 The locality 12 The Council 12 Supporting People – ODPM Framework for Delivery 13 Supporting People – Housing Related Support Services in Lancashire 13 How good is the service? 15 Are the aims clear and challenging? 15 Does the service meet these aims? 16 How does the performance compare? 35 Summary 36 What are the prospects for improvement to the service? 37 Ownership of problems & willingness to change 37 A sustained focus on what matters 39 The capacity and systems to deliver performance and improvement 41 Integration of continuous improvement into day to day management 44 Summary 45 Appendices 46 Documents reviewed 46 Reality checks undertaken 46 List of people interviewed 46 Demographic information 49 Performance information 51 
 Lancashire County Council - Supporting People Programme p 3
Summary Introduction to the Supporting People Programme 1‘Supporting People’ is the Government’s long-term policy to enable local authorities to plan, commission and provide housing related support services that help vulnerable people live independently. The programme went live on 1 April 2003. 2The aim of the Supporting People programme is to establish a strategic, integrated policy and funding framework, delivered locally in response to identified local needs. 3The Supporting People programme brings together a number of funding streams including transitional housing benefit (THB), which has paid for the support costs associated with housing during the implementation phase, the Housing Corporation’s supported housing management grant (SHMG) and probation accommodation grant scheme (PAGS) into a single pot to be administered by 150 administering local authorities. 4end of the first year of theLancashire County Council was inspected towards the Supporting People programme. This report therefore reflects the current context for the council as it moves from implementation to the introduction of the programme and focuses on determining the effectiveness of current service delivery and the outcomes of this for vulnerable people. Background 5Lancashire is a county council in the North West of England. It is a fairly affluent area overall but with significant variations. East Lancashire has serious housing problems and is the subject of the Government’s housing market renewal initiative. Unemployment stands at 2 per cent compared with the national average of 2.6 per cent. 6The population of the area is 1,140,000, living in 491,500 households1. Over the decade to 2001 the population has risen 3 per cent, although this varies throughout the county with some areas having a growing population and other areas falling. 7Pendle, Hyndburn and Preston suffer the highest levels ofFour districts, Burnley, deprivation within Lancashire. Over 4.6 per cent per cent of the population are from black and minority ethnic communities2(BME) and far higher concentrations of people from BME communities live in these deprived areas. 8The county council is Labour controlled with a leader and cabinet model of governance. In total there are 78 councillors: 44 Labour, 27 Conservative, 5 Liberal Democrat, 1 Green party, 1 Independent and 1 Other. The council’s net revenue budget for the year 2003/04 is £1,059 million. 9Lancashire County Council acts as the administering local authority for the Supporting People programme in its area. The council works in partnership with 12 district and borough councils, 8 primary care trusts and one probation service in commissioning Supporting People services. 10The total amount of Supporting People grant funding available in 2003/04 is £30.66 million. The council receives £767,307 Supporting People administration grant to fulfil its role as the administering authority.  12001 C  ensus. 22001 Census.
 
p 4 Lancashire County Council - Supporting People Programme 11The highest average cost of a Supporting People grant funded service per unit is £890.90 a week for accommodation based support for a person with learning disabilities. The lowest weekly unit cost was £0.80 for community alarm units for older people.  Scoring the service 12We have assessed the council as providing a ‘poor’, zero-star service that has promising prospects for improvement. Our judgements are based on the evidence obtained during the inspection and are outlined below. Scoring chart3: Lancashire County Council: Supporting People Programme Prospects for improvement?      ‘a poor service      Poor Fair Good Excellentthat has promising prospects for improvement’
Excellent
Promising Uncertain
A good service?
Poor  What works well 13During our inspection we found a number of positive features in the way that the Supporting People programme has been implemented to date. These include:  Some positive outcomes for service users are beginning to be realised as a result of the Supporting People programme through additional services and a system of service reviews that is seeking to identify areas for improvement in terms of the quality of the services provided.  The aims of the Supporting People programme are clear and balance the priorities of a large number of partner agencies.  Linkages between the Supporting People programme and the local strategic partnership and other local multi agency partnerships are beginning to develop. These are providing the programme with a better grounding in meeting the needs and aspirations of Lancashire’s communities.  Partnership structures are in place and a programme of service reviews is well underway. Service provision within the first year are forecast to be managed within budget.  The council’s programme of service reviews are starting to facilitate a further assessment of the Supporting People funding that will be required and are ensuring that appropriate services are funded within the guidelines for eligibility.
 3The horizontal axis shows how good theThe scoring chart displays performance in two dimensions. service or function is now, on a scale ranging from no stars for a service that is poor (at the left-hand end) to three stars for an excellent service (right-hand end). The vertical axis shows the improvement prospects of the service, also on a four-point scale.
 Lancashire County Council - Supporting People Programme p 5  Work is progressing to better understand the housing related support needs of some client groups within Lancashire’s diverse communities.  Partnerships are established and work is beginning to develop. Most partners take an active part. A smaller executive body, drawn from the existing commissioning body, has been established to speed up decision making. Areas for improvement 14However, we found the following weaknesses with the Supporting People programme that need to be addressed. These include:  out of an expected 165 by February 2004, ofOnly a small proportion, 40 interim contracts are agreed, signed and in place. This is a potential breach of ODPM grant conditions which required the immediate review of services which do not have a contract in place by 31 July 2003 and progress to resolve the position is slow.  Schedules agreeing the amount of Supporting People provision are not in place. In a significant number of cases, legacy provision has not been reconciled with the level of services which providers say they are providing. Payments are being made to providers to ensure that services are maintained but in some instances these are not accurate.  Service provider returns required to ensure that payments of grant are accurate and reflect the level of provision are not being made. At the time of our inspection only 50 per cent of providers were making the necessary returns.  Over £1.2 million late transitional housing benefit (THB) has been claimed which has not attracted legacy funding from the ODPM. One late claim is from one of the commissioning body partners. While the commissioning body has agreed to honour all late claims, to ensure services are maintained to vulnerable people, the financial burden of this decision will reduce the council’s ability to manage the budget and develop new services.  Relationships with external providers are poor. There are high levels of dis-satisfaction with the way that the council has implemented Supporting People. A number of service providers expressed serious concerns at the approach. Providers do not consider their views are being sought before important decisions are taken or that they are listened to.  Requests from external providers to attend core strategy group meetings have been denied and reinforce the distrust and perception that there is an uneven playing field in favour of internal providers who are represented on this group.  Whilst reviews of services, including those with higher costs, have progressed at a considerable pace, 45 have been completed to date. Discussions on how to fund care services identified by review and ineligible for Supporting People grant are only just beginning. Despite assurances that funding will not be withdrawn until a decision is reached, this leaves service providers and users in considerable uncertainty.  The council estimate that £5 million of Suppporting People grant is funding ineligible services. However there are no proposals or plans in place to show how statutory agencies, where they have a responsibility to the vulnerable people concerned, will take responsibility for this funding over time. There are no plans in place that will allow the release of grant funding for investment in appropriate low level housing related support services for vulnerable groups where an unmet need is identified.  The engagement of service users is underdeveloped as are the visible means for communicating with users and potential users. Consultation mechanisms already exist for some client groups, although not all, but no real
p 6 Lancashire County Council - Supporting People Programme dialogue has yet been established with them. Engagement with BME communities is patchy and only just beginning in some areas.  There are gaps in the identification of the needs of some client groups, mainly hard to reach groups including refugees, travellers and people with HIV/AIDS.   The inclusive forum has operated primarily as a vehicle for communicating with providers and other arrangements for creating a dialogue with users, carers and advocacy groups are yet to be fully explored.  Limited information is available for service users on the availablitiy of and how to access, Supporting People services. Access arrangements remain much the same as they were before the introduction of the programme. A new general purpose leaflet has been produced. There is limited information available to users on the county and district council web sites.  Supporting People partnerships are not as effective as they need to be. While the structures are generally in place, there needs to be greater clarity about how to engage meaningfully and transparently with all key partners and service providers in a way that builds trust and ensures they work together for the benefit of service users.  processes in place to resolve disputes withThere are no protocols or providers, despite numerous ongoing disputes, queries and discrepancies over legacy provision and interim contracts. An appeals panel exists for disputed decisions following review but is as yet untested.  Risk assessment, contingency planning, performance management and monitoring have begun but need significant further development.  The Supporting People partnerships with health and probation lack shared targets for the programme that are understood by housing related support providers, commissioning managers within the council, health service providers and others involved in the criminal justice services in Lancashire.  It is unclear how gaps in provision, such as support for people with a physical disability or sensory impairment, refugees, travellers and people suffering from HIV/AIDS are to be addressed. 15We have judged that the Supporting People programme has promising prospects for delivering further improvements. We found the following strengths: What works well  There is a commitment to improve services from all stakeholders including the partnerships. Whilst the council have not given Supporting People priority in the past, recent changes in personnel are expected to raise the profile.  has a track record of delivering improvements throughThe county council action plans drawn up in response to performance assessment and inspection reports.  partnership working is well established and a number ofAt a corporate level, consultation mechanisms already exist to engage with several of the client groups who receive Supporting People services, for example people with learning disabilities.  Supporting People partnerships are developing with active regular participation by most of the 22 partners, including PCTs and Probation. The commissioning body has also responded to the need for a more streamlined executive structure to speed up decision making. Some difficult decisions have been taken and there is a strategic direction for the Supporting People programme.  Additional management resources are being added to the Suppoprting People team to separate strategic and operational management. This will
 Lancashire County Council - Supporting People Programme p 7 supplement the existing team of 20 who hold a wide range of skills, including finance and IT, and are drawn from a variety of relevant professional backgrounds. As part of the five year strategy, due for submission to the ODPM by March 2005, plans are in place to achieve the following:  develop the council’s understanding and knowledge of the low level housing needs of Lancashire;  consultation mechanisms that exist within the‘piggy back’ on existing user county and the partner agencies to formalise links with Supporting People; and  develop performance management so that indicators can be put in place to monitor progress against Supporting People and partner objectives and targets.  In the run up to Supporting People some additional services have been developed, and changes are being made to inherited services. The service review process is key to delivering improvements both in the quality of services provided and ensuring services are value for money. Funding is expected to be released through the review process to enable new services to be developed. In Lancashire this process is well advanced. Areas for improvement 16There are, however, a number of areas in which the council needed to improve:  Until recently there were no signs of ownership of some key problems and the impact they were having on Supporting People service providers, particularly external providers. An improvement plan has now been put in place to deal with key weaknesses identified by the inspection. These issues include the following:  Prolonged data reconciliation problems that have delayed the agreement and signing of contracts with a significant impact on some service providers. A culture of blame has developed which is becoming a barrier to resolving problems.  The deteriorating relationship between mainly external providers and the Supporting People team resulting in some cases in a lack of trust, involvement and co-operation.  Requests for service provider representation on the core strategy group by service providers have been denied without a clear explanation for this decision by the council.  External service providers’ perception that decisions are being taken without any opportunity for them to have their say, let alone effect any influence over the eventual outcome.  Decisions taken by the council are rarely as a result of consultation and are not open and transparent.  Uncertainty over existing and future Supporting People grant funding has implications on service providers’ confidence to plan and develop future provision.  There are no consistent systems for communicating with and encouraging the participation of service users to help shape the future delivery of Supporting People in Lancashire.  There is a lack of understanding of how the Supporting People programme will make contributions to the objectives of the various statutory agencies and partnerships. Partnerships are in place, both within and outside of the Supporting People structures created across Lancashire, but there needs to
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Lancashire County Council - Supporting People Programme be greater clarity about what Supporting People can achieve for each and how they inter-relate.  There is a lack of definition about the role and purpose of low level housing related support within the delivery of health, probation and social care services and its contribution to improving the lives of vulnerable people in Lancashire.  Despite attempts being made to establish a clearer understanding of the boundary between care and support progress has suffered from the lack of trust between Supporting People and service providers.  The council’s draft Supporting People eligibility criteria are very narrow and the insensitive approach taken in raising this with service providers did not make clear that views were to be sought before any decisions are reached.  The focus of activity has been on identifying areas for savings. Little emphasis or attention has been given to the need to have interim contracts in place, accurate data, and systems to gather information to keep the data up to date.  Councillors, particularly district councillors, are being given limited information and are therefore taking insufficient ownership of the Supporting People progamme.  Cross authority work is under-developed. In the absence of agreement, the council has a decision not to fund people inward placements, without any real consideration of what the repercussions might be or arrangements for outward placements.  Whilst corporate mechanisms exist within the council, Supporting People has not been fully integrated into the wider processes. Nor is it clear how these processes will be developed.  Risk assessment is in its early stages and the adoption of contingency plans need to be formalised. There is no detailed service plan or action plan for Supporting People that will monitor and control the delivery of detailed actions. In response to the weaknesses identified as the inspection progressed, the council has taken positive and decisive action. An improvement plan has been developed with proposals to address the majority of the weaknesses identified above including:  improving relations and commmunications with providers;  resolving the delay in agreeing contracts and administrative problems;  improving engagement with service users drawing on the skills of partners and providers and activities already underway in Lancashire;  performance management systems that measure outcomes for service users;  engaging councillors more in the programme; and  resources have been allocated to implement the programme and action has begun.
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 Lancashire County Council - Supporting People Programme p 9 Recommendations 18the challenge of continuous improvement, councils need inspectionTo rise to reports that offer practical pointers for improvement. In this context, we are making the following recommendations: 19With immediate effect the council must draw up a recovery plan with each service provider who has not agreed a contract – interim or otherwise that achieves the following:  reconciles legacy provision with provider data;  ensures that Supporting People data is accurate and up to date;  puts in place accurate payments with any necessary adjustments;  ensures providers are informed of the make up of payments;  establishes systems to ensure data is kept up to date and all monitoring forms are returned and processed; and  identify a named contact within both organisations – the Supporting People team and the service provider. This recovery plan should be properly resourced and progress should be monitored by the commissioning body. The aim should be to have signed contracts in place within 3 months of the date of the draft report and no later than 30 June 2004. A further improvement plan must be drawn up no later than 30 April 2004. The plan must be adequately resourced, target driven and monitored at a corporate level and by the commissioning body, for delivery within agreed timescales stating how work will be carried out that addresses the following issues:  details how the outcomes of consultation with service providers and service users will inform council decisions taken to determine housing related support tasks which are eligible for Supporting People grant in the context of guidance from the ODPM;  establish a separate body, that includes county and district councillors, that is agreed with and understood by all parties that will hear and rule on disputes and queries in relation to contracts, payments and the process and outcomes of service reviews;  detail actions to be taken to determine how service providers will be allowed representation at Supporting People partnership groups and bodies;  establish criteria and systems for determining value for money and cost effectiveness during Supporting People service reviews; and  provide proposals to consult with service providers to establish how forums should be developed in future as effective communication and participative entities. Within three months of the publication of this report the council should have achieved the following:  Improved relationships and communication with providers and restores trust and co-operation.  Secured the ownership of the Supporting People programme by district and county councillors, probation and PCT board members. In the light of the previous low level of engagement in the programme from councillors, take action to increase their knowledge and awareness amongst councillors participating on the appeals panel, particularly from a service user and service provider perspective.
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p 10 Lancashire County Council - Supporting People Programme  Put in place a training programme including visits by key partners to a range of Supporting People service provision.  Agreed how service users can become better engaged with the Supporting People programme.  Discussed and agreed with service providers how often and through what means Supporting People information will be provided.  Discussed and agreed protocols for advance consultation with providers on significant policy recommendations prior to decisions being taken.  Discuss and agreed with all partners, including service users and providers, protocols on the feedback of information on decisions reached and the reasons.  Established clear complaints procedures and routes and ensured that they are accessible to all service users particularly those who have not traditionally engaged with social services.  Developed an ongoing means of monitoring satisfaction with targets and routine reporting.  Formalised arrangements to engage service users of all client groups in the development of aims, priorities and service design for the Supporting People programme.  Agreed an approach with social services managers and the PCTs on how care services ineligible for continued Supporting People grant following review will be funded.  joint approach to service reviews drawing on all the keyDeveloped a partners expertise where Supporting People services are funded from more than one source. Within twelve months of our published report:  and contingency planning for the Supporting PeopleFinalise risk appraisal services in Lancashire with an emphasis on the potential for service failure. These plans must be linked to the corporate programme of risk management, should be clearly recorded and agreed by the commissioning body.  The commissioning body must consider how performance indicators and other statistical information provided by all the partners can be used to evidence the impact that the Supporting people programme is having in Lancashire.  Develop and deliver the five year strategy to reflect the information being gathered from service users about their views and needs for future services and the quality of existing services.  Improve information and access to Supporting People services taking full account of any special communication needs.  Address the needs, current level of service provision, information and access arrangements for people from black and minority ethnic communities.  Establish a wide ownership across the county including the Supporting People commissioning body and its stakeholders.  The council is required to identify and address all the other weaknesses in this report. We would like to thank the staff of Lancashire County Council particularly Carolyn Smith and Ann Fitzpatrick who made us welcome and who met our requests efficiently and courteously.
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 Lancashire County Council - Supporting People Programme p 11 Inspection Team: Alan Brownson Housing Inspector (principal for Lancashire inspection) Maureen O Hare Tenant Inspection Adviser Jane Webb Inspector – HM Inspectorate of Probation Lesley Hoyes Inspector – Social Services Inspectorate   Dates of inspection: 18 February – 27 February 2004  Email: a-brownson@audit-commission.gov.uk  For more information please contact Audit Commission Central Region First Floor, Bridge Business Park Bridge Park Road Thurmaston Leicester LE4 8BL www.audit-commission.gov.uk Telephone: 0116 250 4100 Fax: 0116 250 4101  
 © Audit Commission  The official version of this report is also available on the Audit Commission's web site at audit-commission.gov.uk Copies of this report are also available from the above address. The Audit Commission cannot verify the accuracy of and is not responsible for material contained in this report which has been reproduced by another organisation or individual.